Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
Obama Reviewing Afghanistan Options
Military commanders are pushing President Obama to keep a maximum number of American troops through the coming Afghanistan "fighting season," maximizing their combat role before the December 2014 date for ending offensive operations.
There currently are 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan at an unfunded cost of at least $65-70 billion. To retain those numbers from spring through autumn 2013 - the span of the fighting season - would continue present cost levels, not to mention the toll on troops becoming the last to die or suffer wounds as the American war winds down.
Despite its withdrawals of our combat troops, the US has ensnared itself in a self-perpetuating Long War now spreading to Mali. North Africa currently is the "central focus" in the War on Terror, according to Bloomberg. (July 31) Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is "strengthening its hold in Northern Mali," and from there increasing its recruiting in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and is perhaps the best armed and financed Qaeda "franchise" in the world, according to Gen. Carter Ham. (New York Times, December 3, 2012)
The State Department says that northern Mali is a "safe haven for AQIM and other extremist groups who may prove increasingly effective at targeting Western interests or aligning themselves with those who do so," according to official government testimony before a House subcommittee last June 29. No evidence was presented, however, that the insurgents have the capacity or interest in targeting the West from sanctuaries in Mali any time soon.
President Obama and the Democrats have the political advantage as the crisis of the fiscal cliff approaches. It is the Republicans who are edging towards a political cliff if they appear to be impossibly recalcitrant in the public mind.
Obama does not have a voter mandate to drive the government over the cliff, as some like Paul Krugman and Robert Borosage suggest (they say it will not be so bad, just deepen a slight recession). But the president can achieve certain key goals.